AISD-logoHouston Community College awarded Alief Early College High School’s (AECHS) first graduating class with associate degrees. Fifty-nine students walked the stage at HCC’s 41st commencement ceremony obtaining their degrees May 18.

Several of the first graduating class of 94 students obtained a high number of college credits that will be used toward next steps at colleges, universities and trade schools. The class was also awarded with $3.5 million in scholarships from organizations such as Dell, Houston Hispanic Architects & Engineers, George & Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation, GE-Ronald Reagan Foundation and Jones Scholar-Houston Endowment; and various schools including Baylor University, Texas A&M, University of Texas at Austin, Georgia Institute of Technology and Howard University.

“Being the first in the family to attend college is one of the major requirements for entry into AECHS. We are creating a foundation of success for a group of young people who might not have had the opportunity to experience college and are leaving a legacy that can improve generations for Houston’s future,” said Dr. Zachary Hodges, President, HCC Northwest.

Located on HCC’s Alief Campus, the AECHS held its first classes in fall 2009. One hundred students attended classes on the Alief Campus and earned college credits while working toward obtaining their high school diploma. A permanent facility for the Alief Early College High School opened fall 2010 with 200 students from grades 9 through 12.

“AECHS is one of only 59 Early College High Schools in the entire state of Texas. We are also proud of the partnership Alief Independent School District has with HCC and the ability we have to give our students the tools they need to earn their associate’s degree and their high school diplomas at the same time,” said H.D. Chambers, Superintendent, Alief ISD.

The Early College High School Program is one that demands commitment from its students. They meet all college admission requirements and are committed to continuing on at an institution of higher learning after leaving AECHS. With two years of college credit under their belts, the students will enter a state university at the junior level.

“These students demonstrated courage by choosing a new and innovative path to reach their educational goals while persevering through challenges and staying true to their goal of receiving a college education.” said Kerry Beth Smith, Principal, AECHS.

HCC has five early college high schools that provide students with a “seamless” pathway from high school to college. All housed on HCC campuses, with articulated sharing of space and staff, ECHS allows the high school student to gradually integrate into college course work through his or her traditional high school degree plan. This integration requires dual enrollment, with an additional year for concentrated college coursework and with the student having to show mastery of the knowledge and skills necessary for success.

The students will receive their high school diploma from AECHS August 1.

For more information about Early College High School, contact Genevieve Coogan at genevieve.coogan@hccs.edu.